“…let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12, ESV)
Looking To Tell The Truth
Perhaps we’ll dedicate this to smilin’ Joel Osteen who is quite obviously confused as evident when he said that practicing Mormons are Christians, which you can see for yourself in Joel Osteen Blesses The Mormon Church. Who knows, maybe it’ll help him out a bit with the Jesus Who’s supposed to have sent him as a pastor. However, this also was another non-issue within the evangelical “Love Shack.” But the fact remains that the largess landscape of the “postmodern” pudding, which is America today, is literally littered with many different views about Who Jesus Christ of Nazareth is. So I thought it would be interesting to ask the question: Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up?
James Walker, director of the apologetics ministry Watchman Fellowship, reminds us of an old TV program called To Tell The Truth which:
used to end each program by asking the real guest to, “please stand up.” Every episode featured three studio guests, all claiming to be the same person. One guest was who he said he was, but the other two were phonies.
The celebrity contestants had the difficult and often humorous task of identifying the genuine article. At the climax of the program, the two impostors remained seated and the real guest stood to reveal his identity. (Online source)
If you recall this celebrity panel would have to ask questions to try and figure who the real person was, which was all part of the fun. In his piece Walker reminds us that “Christians today witness many religious groups each claiming a belief in a Jesus.” However, their doctrine about Who they believe their Jesus to be “varies widely, and is often contradictory,” even though they claim to be able to show you Who their Christ is from the Bible.
As we said, the panel on To Tell The Truth only had the two counterfeits to eliminate. Unfortunately today there are scores of false Christs running about and you’d be amazed at the differing views as to who these various groups say Christ Jesus of Nazareth is. Each group has their own list of Bible verses as proof-texts to try and convince you of their beliefs about Jesus the Christ. They really don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air; ah, well at least most of them don’t. There are however, some people who have views that really do seem to have arrived here by way of some other planet.
An Eternally Deadly Case of Mistaken Identity
Now on the TV show celebrities who got tricked by the phonies weren’t going to suffer any real harm. “In fact,” Walker writes, “part of the program’s appeal was seeing a usually sharp celebrity deceived by a clever guest.” Not so when it comes to the only Savior there is for lost mankind. And Walker is dead on target when he says, “the person who puts their trust in a counterfeit Jesus is involved in a deadly case of mistaken identity.” The Master Himself made this crystal clear when He said to the religious people of His day, recorded for us by the Apostle John, who was an eyewitness — “if you believe not that I am — ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24, literal Greek).
Walker then astutely points out:
The Jews obviously believed in a Jesus (he was standing right in front of them), but they did not believe the right things about Jesus. Their Jesus was only a man, a carpenter from Nazareth who had become a radical rabbi. Know who Christ is — or die in your sins. The statement certainly shocked the Jews with whom Christ was debating. They answered, “Who art thou?” (vs. 25).
In part, Jesus replied, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am,” (John 8:58). Jesus clearly identified himself as God, the I AM of Exodus 3. Unfortunately these particular Jews rejected the deity of Christ and ultimately refused to trust Him alone as Savior. Their response to Christ’s claim to be the “I AM” was unmistakably direct — “Then took they up stones to cast at him,” (vs. 59).
Like those first century Jews, the cults today rejected the true identity of Christ. Besides a few historical similarities, the Jesus of the cults bear little resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible. Sometimes only the name is the same! (ibid.)
A Spiritual To Tell The Truth With You As Guest Panelist
Apprising Ministries now invites you to a very special spiritual edition of To Tell The Truth. As a part of our celebrity panel you will be hearing the claims of a few of the more predominate Jesuses you are likely to run in to during your lifetime; they may even come knocking on your door. At the end of this message, after you’ve heard from each of our guests and have the chance to compare them to Christ Jesus as He’s revealed in the Bible, we’ll then ask the crucial question: Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? Let’s see how you do.
First, we’ll proceed along the lines of the great Church Reformer Martin Luther who once said: My mind is held captive by the Scriptures. So before we even bring out our contestants, let’s go the Bible itself for a quick look at Who Jesus Christ of Nazareth really is according to God‘s Word. And so, we’ll be right back after this most important message as we turn to the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 1. Here’s a real simple passage to show someone clearly the actual Identity of Jesus of Nazareth—the Christ of God.
John 1:1 — In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Then we go to verse 14 — The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. And finally on down to verse 18 — No one has ever seen God, but God the one and only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known. So then, it becomes quite obvious that the Word, Who became flesh, in this passage of John’s Gospel is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Let’s go back and look at John 1:1 again, this time inserting the name Jesus wherever we see “the Word.” Here’s the word picture you’d get from reading it in the original Greek — Before anything ever began, Jesus already was, Jesus was face to face with God, and what God was, Jesus also was. In the clearest terms possible John tells us that the Word—Jesus—is God. There is no doubt here the Bible is teaching that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is God Himself come into His Own creation in human flesh. Now I’m not trying to force you to believe this, but as we listen to our guests, this is the Jesus we are going to be looking for—the Jesus of Biblical revelation.
The Contestants Come Forward To Sign In
And now we are going to bring out our contestants To Tell The Truth. In the interest of space I’m only going to give a general description of the “Jesus” of a particular religious group. Everything I tell you about this Jesus I have personally and carefully investigated and it can be documented from their own sources. Also please keep in mind it is not my intention to belittle another’s faith. On the contrary, like the TV detective Joe Friday from Dragnet—a program contemporary with To Tell The Truth—we’re after, “Just the facts, m’am.”
Here is our first quest to sign in:
I am the Jesus of the faith of Islam. I am merely one of the many prophets of Allah, and his last and greatest prophet—Muhammad—“Peace be upon him,” supersedes me as God’s last revelation. I am not the Son of God, nor am I part of any Trinity. Through the angel Gabriel, Allah revealed to my fellow prophet Muhammad in The Qu’ran that God is not a trinity and they do blaspheme who say that He is. I was nothing but a slave upon whom Allah showed favor.
Although I was sinless in this life I did not atone for anyone else’s sin because I am just one of those who are near to God. Like Allah’s earlier prophets of God, such as Moses, Abraham and Elijah, I was a man who did perform many miracles and taught about the ways of the unknowable Allah. And I was a Messiah but I did not die on the cross. Somehow I was able to fool my captors and then substitute Judas Iscariot for me on the cross; or, it could have been that Allah miraculously delivered me from the hands of the Romans and the Jews before I could be crucified.
Muslim scholars aren’t sure which—and after-all—it was a long time ago. Allah’s Word, the Qu’ran, says that I was taken bodily into Heaven without having died; but in a later chapter, it then says that I died and will be resurrected. Apparently it is the will of Allah to reveal some other time which of those things really happened.
Alright, will our next contestant sign in please:
I am the Jesus of The Way International. It’s founder Victor Paul Wierwille taught that the Bible clearly says that I am a man conceived by the Holy Spirit, which is only another title for God the Father. You see, the Trinity is a pagan teaching.
My life was perfect without blemish, and without spot. I am a lamb from the flock and thereby I was the perfect sacrifice. Now before I was born, I existed only in God’s foreknowledge. I am not co-eternal with God, nor am I co-equal with Him. My existence actually began when I was conceived by God as He created my soul-life in an ovum in Mary’s womb and I then became your redeemer.
God told Wierwille that he is the only one who properly interpreted the Bible and preserved the original meaning of the text. And those who teach that I am God will never stand approved as rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
And now here is our next contestant to sign in:
I am the Jesus Christ of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). My original Church went through a total apostasy and I took the Priesthood from the earth. In 1820 by one account—as there are nine different accounts—I appeared with Heavenly Father to Joseph Smith who would be the prophet to restore my Church. I told him that everything the historic Christian Church had taught was an abomination in my sight and that all who believe in those doctrines are corrupt. I am the spirit child who was born first to Heavenly Father, whose name is Elohim, and who has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.
Elohim was once a man who lived on the planet Kolob. He died and was resurrected by his father—after earning his way to godhood—as did his father before him and on back. Heavenly Father pro-created all of us through sexual relations with one of his celestial wives and we are all his spirit children. I was born first; next was Lucifer, and then on down the line comes you. When the head of the gods—of which there are countless numbers—called a council of the gods I came up with a better plan of salvation than my brother Lucifer did. So I became the Savior for Heavenly Father’s children on earth. I was conceived for my earthly mission when Heavenly Father came down and had sexual relations with his daughter the Virgin Mary.
I sweat great drops of blood for your sins in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then on the cross I finished my work; and because of that atonement, all persons on this earth are going to be resurrected. And so now you have a chance to earn your way to becoming a god just like me by working the Gospel Principles taught by the Mormon Church. But be careful because my blood was not sufficient to cover some of your sins my prophet Brigham Young once taught for me. He said, “There’s not a man or woman who violates the covenant made with their God that will not be required to pay that debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out. [And y]our own blood must atone for it.”
Ok, will our next guest please sign in:
I am the Jesus of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and The Unification Church. I was a man no different from you except that I was born without original sin. I am the son of Zechariah and his sister-in-law Mary. I did not come to die on the cross; no, that was a victory for Satan as he got what he had intended through the 4,000 year course of history—the exercise of his maximum power. Unfortunately I failed in my Christly mission, as my death on the cross was not an essential part of God’s plan for redeeming sinful man. What my death did do was to make the way for Rev. Moon as the Messiah—the “Lord of the Second Advent”—to complete the work I left unfinished when I was crucified.
My crucifixion wasn’t a total failure though because I did achieve a “spiritual” salvation. But Rev. Moon has come as the third Adam, and it is he who will redeem mankind physically from original sin. So my value to humankind is of no greater value than that of any other man. It is plain that I am not God Himself, I’m only a man in whom God was incarnate. In fact, Rev. Moon says you can compare yourself to me, and even feel you can be greater than I was. My words—and those of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament will lose their light—which means that the period of their mission has elapsed with the coming of this new age that was ushered in by Rev. Moon.
God’s real purpose in sending me was to find a bride, marry, and produce sinless children. The crucifixion was a universal tragedy because it was not the will of God. It was a secondary choice after it become obvious that I would not be able to fulfill my mission. My death on the cross was unable to remove mankind’s original sin. God’s primary will was for me to marry as there had to be a bride—a Mother—to become another Eve. Because Jewish people did not believe in me and delivered me up for crucifixion, my body was invaded by Satan, and I was killed. I was not resurrected; I am currently struck in a particular level of paradise, awaiting liberation by Rev. Moon’s ministry.
It’s time now for our next guest to sign in:
I am the Jesus of the historic, orthodox Christian Church, which I purchased with My Own blood. I Am the one true and eternal God incarnate—God the Son—second Person of the blessed and Holy Trinity. I am the very Creator of the entire universe and the only Savior of hopelessly lost mankind. There is never a time in which I did not exist as I am the spotless Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.
And in the fullness of time I was born of the Virgin Mary and clothed with human flesh—truly God and truly man. Then while on My planet I lived the sinless life necessary for you to come and be in the Presence of God the Father. In My Father’s will, and for His glory, I willingly sacrificed My perfect life for yours.
I shed My blood on the Cross as an offering for the sins of all who are literally new creations regenerated by God the Holy Spirit who believe in me. On the Cross I bore the wrath of Almighty God that you actually deserve and as I died in your place I said: “It is finished.” All is done, so there’s nothing left for anyone else to do.
I was buried, but on the third day, I rose again from the dead in the same Body so that you could know that God the Father accepted my sacrifice and that I am the One I claim to be. Now you can trust in Me because by My resurrection you know that I am able to save all those who by God’s grace alone, place their faith alone, in Me alone.
I say that, “In all the universe there is only one God; you are not Him, nor will you ever be.”
The Time Is Growing Short To Tell The Truth
Well panel, as you can see so far, there are some interesting views on just Who Jesus Christ of Nazareth is. And I hope that you’re hanging in there with me now as we have just a couple of more contestants before we’re done. Will our next guest please sign in:
I am the Jesus of the Mind Science cults such as Christian Science, The Unity School Of Christianity, A Course In Miracles, and the New Age Movement. I am simply a man—just as human as you are.
And yet; I am God. But not the way you think. I am one of the Ascended Masters and many consider me the man who best demonstrated how to tune in to, and then to use, the Christ-consciousness principle which is actually in all of mankind.
I teach you that God is the force that we’re all a part of. For many of us God is not really a person and as such we are all god; just like drops of water make up the ocean, so are we make up god. I teach you that through learning to develop this spark of the divine—the Christ already within you—and through reincarnation, you can once again be one as god. Then you just fade back into the blessed nothingness, which some refer to as Nirvana.
It’s time for our next contestant to sign in please:
I am the Jesus of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which is also known as The Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am Michael the Archangel, the first and greatest spirit creation of Jehovah God. I was later recreated as a human and was born the man Jesus of Nazareth.
I was not crucified on the cross, but rather I was killed on a torture stake. Three days later Jehovah God recreated me again, this time back into the invisible divine spirit creature Michael the Archangel. Then he dissolved the body of the dead man Jesus into gases; or, he might have put it someplace to display it later.
I’m really not too sure on that but, in 1914 I returned invisibly and I am now ruling the universe for Jehovah God through the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in Brooklyn NY.
Last, but certainly least—in our spiritual parody of To Tell The Truth—will our final contestant please sign in:
I am the Jesus of today’s liberal theology of inclusive, politically correct, universalism. I am only a human man—arguably the best example of a man and the greatest teacher to yet live. However, I was not born of a virgin; nor did I actually rise from the dead. Unfortunately as a mere Jewish Rabbi, I attracted such devoted followers that even after my death they wanted to keep my spirit alive so to speak. And so they went and built this elaborate theology around me, which is largely based on the writings of that rascal Paul. Sadly, they ended up making me into a god.
But I never I made any such outlandish claims. I teach that the most important thing we can do is to love one another. You see, that’s all that matters because we are the brotherhood of man. No one should ever criticize what another person honestly believes about God. After-all, all of humanity is actually already all God’s children. And even though we may take different paths of religion in this life, as all religions please God if they are sincere, in the end—as in Love Wins a la Rob Bell—we’ll all be with God because everyone is eventually going to be saved. Mankind is just too good to be condemned and God is too good to condemn him.
As long as you love one another it really doesn’t matter to God what you believe about him. He’s just delighted if you believe in him. And so, as the old pop hymn goes, “don’t worry; be happy.” You need to feel good about yourself. In fact, every religion reserves a place for me. The fact is, I’m the most popular Jesus because I’m not going to make any demands of you. The only choice believing in me requires is that if you’re going to follow my teachings is that you will have to look at the Bible as being the same as all the other religious literature. You don’t really need to be any more concerned with the Bible than you would be with any other book of man’s religious teachings.
Although it most likely does teach some actual truth about God, the Bible isn’t any more important that any of the other holy books of any of the other cultures. I teach that all of them contain a way to God and that all religions eventually lead back to him; so, I’m not exactly clear on why I had to go to the cross. Perhaps the best guess is that I was the man God used to show his empathy toward mankind and to enter himself into our sufferings through the injustice shown to me.
The Moment Of Real Truth Arrives
Well panel, there you have our contestants; each claiming to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Jesus of Biblical revelation. If you were sharp, as our guests were introducing themselves you were asking your questions; testing them, with what we know about Jesus Christ of Nazareth from the historical eyewitness accounts in the Bible. You may already know that God does demands us to investigate the claims made people claiming to speak for God.
He really does; this is what the Lord says — Test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The King James Version says — prove all things — the Greek word is dokimazo — and it means “to discern, to put to the test, to carefully examine.” In this verse—God the Holy Spirit—commands us to put every religious teaching to the test, and to examine it thoroughly to see if it is genuine—to see if it actually came from God. In his book Orthodoxy And Heresy Christian apologist Rob Bowman Jr. informs us:
the New Testament is emphatically clear that we are to judge truth from error—and good from evil. This verse especially focuses on the need to discern true revelations from false revelations. Those who claim to be prophets—who claim to speak under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit must have their revelations tested.
So with all of this in mind it’s time now to ask our critical question: Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? If you have been putting each of our contenders to the test of Holy Scripture then you can now see that the historic Person Jesus Christ of Nazareth—preached by His historic orthodox Christian Church for 2000 years now—is the One Who is standing up. He towers high above those counterfeits Christs; dwarfing those who have no power to save anybody, because they are imposters and do not even exist. Only God himself could be our Savior. And this is exactly Who the Bible reveals Jesus to be.
One thing remains certain; none of these other Jesuses will pass that test of Holy Scripture. A fact that we will all do well to ponder ourselves; and then to share this with others, before it’s too late. I close now with the words of a great preacher of God’s Word just after the turn of the last century—Dr. R.A. Torrey. These prophetic words speak ever so loudly to this generation today. Dr. Torrey said, as he quoted Romans 3:18:
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” And the rejection of Jesus Christ—God the Son—Whom God the Father has appointed to be our Savior, our King and our Lord is the most daring and damning of all sins. There is nothing in this world that reveals what is in the human heart so clearly as what a man does with the real Lord and Christ. The rejection of Jesus Christ certainly proves a wicked heart. Hear this O sinner, the great question on the Judgment Day will be: “What did you do with Jesus Christ?”
Oh yes, I can imagine some people on that day. That man who sits in yonder gallery trying to make light of what I am saying tonight he will be there. I can see him standing before the Judgment Bar. The throng will fall back; there will be a profound silence. Then comes rolling forth like the sound of mighty rushing waters the majestic Voice of the awesome and dreadful Judge: “You man, what did you do with Jesus Christ!” Who is to be the Judge that day?
None other than Jesus Christ Himself! The Lord, Christ Jesus Whom you are rejecting is to be that Judge. This same Jesus Christ of Nazareth Whom you are robbing of the honor which is His due will be that Judge. That same Christ Whose Divinity you are denying. And not that you have any real reason to deny it, but simply in your proud and arrogant heart you want to deny it. And you want to comfort yourself in your sin. That same Christ, Whom you are trampling underfoot will sit as Judge that day. That will be a very dark day for some.
I can imagine that man or woman in this audience tonight who’s been telling their friends they do not believe that Jesus is God, and whose been trampling the God the Son underfoot, and who have been resisting the invitations of mercy—maybe even for years now—you will stand before that Throne. And this same Christ Whom you have defamed and slandered, mocked and rejected, lied about and trampled underfoot, will be sitting as your Judge. Friend, will you come to Him now, while He sits upon the Throne of mercy? I beseech you; come to Him today while the question still is: “What will you do with Jesus Christ?”
Grace Or The Law: The Choice Before You
Because, O sinner, if you will not have our Lord’s mercy; then you shall be judged by God’s perfect Law, and I assure you in the Spirit, His justice will be done. As it is written:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)
He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says, and may you come to the real Jesus now, before it’s too late.