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Can We Trust Jesus?
Jesus made audacious and radical claims as to who He truly was and what He would do. Can we trust Him?
British writer and Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis popularized an apologetic argument known as the Jesus Trilemma. He famously said during his BBC radio show and later wrote in his book Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Many people readily admit that Jesus was the greatest teacher to ever walk the Earth. His teachings on loving your neighbor, treating others as you would like to be treated, giving to those in need, and many more. Those same people tend to ignore Jesus’s claims to divinity and authority. The question then arises; how can someone say that Jesus is the greatest and wisest of teachers, but argue that Jesus is not who He claimed to be? C.S. Lewis was right in his hypothesis that we cannot claim that Jesus is a “great moral teacher” but reject Jesus as the Son of God. We must make a choice about who Jesus is.
Scripture is crystal as to the identity of Jesus. He is 100% God and 100% man. He is God in the flesh (Jn 1:14). He is the Messiah and the long awaited Son of David (Matt. 1:1). He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). He is the suffering and humble servant who was crucified for our sins and died in our place. He is the resurrected Savior who is exalted and seated at the right hand of His Father. He has been given the name which is above every name (Isa. 53, Phi. 2:5-11). The identity of Jesus is not testified to by His followers alone. Jesus made claims regarding Himself. He claimed He is the unique only begotten Son of God (Jn. 3:16). He claimed He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one can come to the Father except through Him (Jn. 14:6). He claimed He is the Resurrection and the Life (Jn. 11:25). He claimed He was here before Abraham and that He is, in fact, God (Jn. 8:48-59). He claimed authority. He claimed He is the Son of Man who came to seek and to save that which was lost (Lk 19:10). It would be foolish and intellectually dishonest to argue that Jesus’s followers did not make claims as to who Jesus is and it would be a horrible mistake to claim that Jesus didn’t make claims to His own identity. A mistake that has horrible consequences. That being said, we know that there are claims about Jesus within the words of Holy Scripture and there are two questions that arise from that. Firstly, can we trust the Scriptures and, secondly, can we trust Jesus? I will seek to answer that first question in another post coming soon and focus on that second question in this post. Can we trust Jesus?
What do I mean when I ask can we trust Jesus? It can be hard to trust Jesus. There are things in our lives that happen that break us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Though we know God exists, we begin to ask if that same God cares about us. At that point we begin to doubt Jesus’s authority and promises. All of us can sometimes struggle to trust Jesus. We should never decide to blindly follow Jesus. We should never blindly follow anyone. Jesus made our minds for a reason. We wants us to use our minds to find it rational to follow Him. How can we properly follow and love someone we can’t even trust? I am convinced we should follow Jesus because we trust Jesus. Jesus made many audacious claims (As previously looked at). He claimed to bring life. He claimed to take sin away. He claimed to be God. Do we trust that? There are plenty of reasons to trust Jesus, but I will give you three big reasons we should trust Him and as a result give our lives to Him.
First, Jesus is sovereign. The fact that Jesus is sovereign should be a comfort to us. He has been given the name which is above every name. He is seated on His throne (Phil. 2:10-11). There is nothing that could possibly separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). Jesus being sovereign should not be thought of as a scary thing, but instead a blessing. Jesus’s sovereignty gives us assurance of our salvation. Jesus’s sovereignty gives us peace as we consider His providence. Jesus’s sovereignty gives us confidence as we go to Him in prayer. We can know that He hears our prayers and our worship towards Him. “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?,” God once said to the prophet Jeremiah. A rhetorical question that we should, perhaps, appreciate a little bit more (Jer. 32:27). Nothing is too difficult for our God. That is why Jesus extends an invitation to His followers,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30).
Because of His sovereignty, we can trust Him and His plan for our lives. 19th century British Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon once, famously, explained, “When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.” We can trust Jesus because of His sovereignty.
Second, Jesus wants the best for us. There has been a teaching that has been pushed to the extreme in recent decades, that is very damaging to the Faith. That teaching is the belief that we must suffer as Christians. If you enjoy life then you’re doing something wrong. As Christians we must be persecuted in today’s world. That is not entirely correct. I agree that there may be times where we are persecuted for our beliefs. There is even a chance we might die for our faith. As Paul once wrote, “to live is Christ, to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). There will be times where Christianity gets hard. Of course, we must flee from sin. I want to argue there is a place in our lives for happiness and satisfaction. Jesus does not want us to suffer in neither this life nor the next. He wants us to live a life completely satisfied in Him. As Christians, we should have a joy that breaks through the troubles and sorrows of this world. Paul writes in Romans, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Joy is included in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The Psalmist writes in Psalm 16, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psa. 16:11) We know that God wants us to be joyful and satisfied in Him, because we were created for the very purpose of enjoying God and glorifying Him forever. I am persuaded we should trust Jesus, for the reason that He wants what is best for us (and that is to find satisfaction in God). Jonathan Edwards, the famous 18th century Great Awakening preacher and theologian, once said, “The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.” If we seek joy outside of Christ, we will be found wanting. The Ecclesiastes writer knew this all too well. He attempted to find pleasure, joy, and satisfaction outside of God and he was left with nothing but vanity, despair, and futility of life. May we trust Jesus, who knows and can provide what our souls hunger for.
Lastly, Jesus is faithful and gracious. In John 14, Jesus tells His apostles He is going to prepare a place for us. The Scriptures talk many times about how wonderful it will be in the presence of God. As Christians, Jesus promises He will prepare us a place there. What an encouraging thought that is (Jn. 14:1-3). It is written in the book of Numbers, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Num 23:19). We can be confident that Jesus will not break His promises towards us. In the book of Lamentations the author writes, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam: 3:22-23). He promises He will neither leave us nor forsake us. He promises eternal life to those who put their faith in Him. We may struggle when we realize we are not worthy of that promise of eternal life, but is that not the whole point of grace? None of us are worthy to be with our God for eternity, but our God looked on us and showed us compassion. We can trust Jesus when promises these things to us, because He is perfectly faithful and gracious.
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, and to take him at his word; just to rest upon his promise, and to know, "Thus saith the Lord"
O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust his cleansing blood; and in simple faith to plunge me neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease; just from Jesus simply taking life and rest, and joy and peace.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! How I've proved him o'er and o'er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more!
What a blessing it is to trust in Jesus. We can trust Jesus because of His sovereignty. We can trust Him because we know He wants what is best for us and He is the only one who can provide what is best for. We can trust Him because He is faithful and gracious towards us. It is my prayer that we will trust in Jesus more and more each day!
All scriptures are English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Edwards, Jonathan. Works of Jonathan Edwards: Volume 2: Section 2.
Lewis, Clive Staples. Mere Christianity. Bles, 1952.
Hymn by Louisa M. R. Stead