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The Mission of Jesus Christ

Some months ago, I was asked by a dear friend to describe what I thought was the mission of Jesus Christ.  He made the request of a number of others, and then recently released the results.  He was affirmative enough about what I wrote, that I have decided to post it in this blog:

The best summary of I can think of to briefly describe the mission of Jesus Christ on earth is arguably the most familiar:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life;  for God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”  John 3:16, 17

Note that I connected the two verses by a semicolon, whereas in the translation I used, there’s a period; but the two verses are deeply connected.

This root summary of course implies a host of child concepts that add much detail and explanation for the root.  Further, those children are also found in the Bible – both Old and New Testaments – and provide excellent background and commentary on every few words in the above.

There are many thorough and meaningful treatises on these verses, so I will not attempt to duplicate what is so readily available, but a few comments are needed:

“God” – as you know from my occasional expressed thoughts on these matters over the years that I have zero respect for what the Bible describes as the thoughts of a fool: “No God”.  This kind of thinking can only be looked at as loaded: the fool doesn’t want there to be a God.  First of all, the proof of “No God” is impossible to substantiate, whereas the evidence for SOME KIND of god is myriad.  I certainly have toleration for questions such as “What is God like?”, or “Can a person actually know God or be known by Him?”, or “How can God be good, with all the suffering?”  To me, these are valid questions – although I am convinced that the answers to such questions are found within the pages of the Bible.  Further, to me the beauty of nature, the symmetry of mathematics, the implications of relativity and quantum theory, and even the workings of plant and animal cells and countless other observations all point to an immense unfathomable creative force, which coincides with the imagery describing God in the Bible.

Another concept that jumps out to me in the above quotation is that (a) mankind is somehow “unsaved” and on the path to perishing, but (b) God sent Jesus to rescue mankind from that death and exchange it for eternal life – which points to life beyond the space-time continuum.   The English term used for that which causes an unsaved condition is “sin”.  Therefore, absolutely fundamental to the mission of Jesus on earth has deep connection to the fact that all people sin, and this is a very big problem that requires an extraordinarily profound answer from God, and also a response from man.

Finally, to receive the unimaginable gift of eternal life, there is a barrier that must be crossed, and that is belief.  Elsewhere the Bible states that “without faith it is impossible to please God”, a statement also filled with derivative meaning, the most fundamental being that God wants — but has constructed the universe so that he will not force – mankind to please Him; elsewhere the Bible uses the term “obey”.  Of course even if one accepts the phrase “believe on Him”, what exactly does that mean?  Again, many people have discussed this in great detail, but for starters it must mean taking Jesus at his own words – including the John 3 quote above, which of course was Jesus speaking.  And not only listening to Jesus, but also to the other writers in the Bible, Old and New Testament.  One of many examples, in 1 John 1, the writer states:

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.  1 John 1:5-10

I believe in the veracity of the above words and many others similar, and the beauty is that they have all proven to be valid and operational in not only my life, but in the lives of many other believers that I have been privileged to know.  The tragedy is the incredible unbridgeable chasm between those who believe and those who do not, and the resulting absence of a connection at a profound level that is shared only among believers.

Ok, as you would expect, I couldn’t just stop with one phrase describing the mission of Jesus on the earth!

When my friend recently released the results, I decided to add another paragraph:

Just a brief addendum to the way-too-long tome that I wrote, hopefully in the spirit of your original request – note truncated distribution.

Something I have stumbled into recently is the significant advances made within the scientific community of Intelligent Design.  When the Dover case was settled in favor of Darwin and Dawkins in 2005, there was hardly a publication in scholarly journals supporting Intelligent Design.  Now ten years later there are nearly 100 — peer-reviewed!  A very important book, “Darwin’s Doubt” by Stephen Meyer was published in 2013 to mostly rave reviews.  Capitalist theoretician George Gilder stated that it was “.. the best scientific book ever written..”.  Here is a link to a friendly (and fairly humorous) interview of Stephen Meyer by Eric Metaxas (he of the recent Bonhoeffer book  and the book on Wilberforce bestsellers), and a less friendly (and shorter) interview on C-Span’s BookTV.

While Intelligent Design doesn’t “prove” Jesus, it points to the need for conscious intelligence to produce life, which to me is consistent with the God of the Bible.

“For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”  (Jesus Christ, before Pilate – John 18:37)

Update:

A further confirmation of the reliability of scripture has also recently come to my attention in the work of physicist and Hebrew scholar Gerald Schroeder, along with Christian apologist John Lennox, both dealing with Genesis 1.  Consider the following two videos:

Dr Schroeder 6 days of Creation

John Lennox: Seven Days That Divide the World

In both cases, as well as in accompanying videos and books (Schroeder, Lennox), the case is made to reconcile the six “days” of creation in the Bible with current cosmological consensus which entails the “big bang” (i.e., the beginning of space and time) and Einstein’s Relativity, combined with pre-modern science era deep understanding of the Hebrew text by Talmudic scholars and similar.  When understood within that context, the Biblical text and the current scientific understanding are in essential – almost uncanny — agreement.

Taking this Genesis 1 work along with Stephen Meyer’s demonstration of the need for conscious intelligence to add information at points such as the Cambrian explosion, as well as work in other areas of Intelligent Design by researchers such as Michael Behe and William Dembski, and the validation of the Biblical view of God and origins is becoming increasingly established from a science/philosophy of science perspective.

 

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