Interactive Gospel
- Two Second Summary -
by Paul Hazelden


1.   Summary

Jesus is Lord - absolute ruler of the universe - and this truth must change your life.

  1. I'll go along with that
  2. Please explain further
  3. I object to what you've said
  4. What are the alternatives?

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2.   Further Details

By 'Jesus', we mean the historic man who was born in Palestine around two thousand years ago, who exercised a short public ministry of teaching and doing good to people, and who died on a Roman cross.

By 'Lord', we mean that Jesus had been placed in the position of absolute authority over everyone and everything in the universe. Currently, His rule is not seen, as many creatures are in rebellion against Him, but one day He will defeat all those who oppose Him, and He will rule over all those who accept Him as their master.

This truth must change your life, because you have to make a choice: either oppose Jesus, or submit to Him and follow Him. His claim is all-embracing, so only those two positions will be, in the final analysis, possible.

This truth must change your life for a second reason, too. Because Jesus was really a human being like us, the life He lived opens up for us the possibility that we, too, can live a different kind of life. If we follow Him, He gives us His Spirit, to guide us and empower us - to enable us to live the life we want to live.

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3.   Objections

There are all kinds of objections people raise. Apart from the alternative ideas people put forward, there are a few common reactions.

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These ideas are outdated

This objection can be expressed in a number of different ways: by reference to science, or the modern world, to various schools of philosophy, or multiple worldviews.

However it is expressed, the basic content is the same, and the basic response is the same, too. Truth can never be outdated. Two plus two always was four, and always will be four.

People have come up with all kinds of ideas and views in which the Christian message has no place or relevance. But they would only invalidate the Christian message if they could be shown to be true themselves. This can't be done.

Not only can't it be done, but people are increasingly seeing these 'modern' views as being inadequate as a foundation on which to base your life. The Christian faith has stood the test of time, not only in terms of its message, but also its philosophical underpinning: the Christian view of the world enables people to make sense of the world, and enables us to live meaningful lives in the world. In practical terms - it works. Whether you accept the truth of the Christian message or not.

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It is true for you, not me

If the previous object is the 'scientific' objection, this is the 'new age' objection. Or, if you prefer, the previous objection is the 'modern' objection, and this one the 'postmodern' objection.

There are some stories, some messages, to which this is a reasonable response. But the Christian message is not one of them. The Christian message is one of a universal truth - it claims to be the one great universal truth of all time.

You may not like the message, but of all the messages in the world, this one is either true for all people, or it is not true at all.

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4.   Alternatives

There are three main alternatives I hear people suggesting.

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Jesus never lived

A few people still put this idea forward, but it is way past its sell-by date. Using any normal basis for historical investigation, you have to conclude that the person who has had greater impact on human history than any other - he really did exist.

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The Gospels are not accurate

Some people will accept that Jesus really existed, but claim that we cannot know anything for sure about him, because we cannot trust the Gospel records.

But, again, there is no historical basis for discounting the historic records we have. The documentary evidence for their accurate transmission and preservation is overwhelming.

And the suggestion that the four Gospels are works of fiction is so far-fetched that it would need a major essay just to summarise the problems it throws up! But, just for starters:

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Jesus was a spiritual master

Some people who accept that the Biblical record is essentially true also think that the church through the centuries has consistently misunderstood and misrepresented the person and message of its founder.

These people fall into two very distinct groups: those who accept the full range of the Bible's teaching about Jesus, and those who wish to 'correct' parts while holding on to other parts. The distinction is generally between those who accept the Divinity of Jesus and those who deny it, but still claim to respect Him and follow His teachings.

These folk often claim that Jesus was some kind of 'spiritual master' or 'advanced soul' - and they then go on to explain what Jesus was 'really' teaching. Interestingly, they rarely go on to explain what He was 'really' doing. Of course, it always turns out that the core of the message Jesus taught was exactly the same as the message of the author or teacher making this claim.

There are all kinds of alternative images of Jesus, presented by people who are not Christians. But history shows, time and time again, that when people examine the historic records we have preserved for us, they discover faith in the same Jesus that other Christians have worshipped and followed through the centuries. The differences arise when people choose to ignore some aspects of the record, not when they gain deeper insights into the original texts.

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