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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Case for Christianity

Don Stewart :: The Main Character of the New Testament

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Chapter 6 – The Main Character of the New Testament

Jesus Christ and the Claims Made about Him

Thus far we have learned that the New Testament is a reliable document in its text and in its historical references. This being the case, we now need to go to the New Testament itself to look at the specific claims in which it makes. This chapter will examine these claims.

We find that the main character of the New Testament is Jesus Christ. The Old Testament looked forward to His coming, the gospels record His arrival, the Book of Acts chronicles the spreading of His message, the New Testament letters explain His two comings, and the Book of Revelation records the consummation of all things in Christ. The Bible is truly all about Him.

This being the case, we want to find out what specific claims it makes about Him. We find that Jesus made certain claims about Himself and others also made claims about Him.

From these claims, we will discover two basic truths; there is only one God who exists and there is only one way to reach the one God; through the Person of Jesus Christ. The New Testament is clear on both of these matters.

This chapter will deal with the specific claims that the New Testament makes about Jesus Christ. Since the New Testament has been transmitted accurately, and its history matches up with known events, then we must take seriously the claims that it makes. This section examines some of those specific claims which are found in the New Testament.

What Is the Intention of the New Testament Writers?

Whenever we read any book, our goal should be to discover the intention or purpose of the author. As far as the New Testament is concerned, the main character is Jesus Christ; it is all about Him. In addition, the New Testament was written to create belief in Him. This is the claim that it makes for itself. John wrote the following:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30, 31 NASB)

These verses are highly instructive. John’s purpose in writing was to create in his readers, belief in Jesus. He tells us that he was selective in the signs that he recorded about the life and ministry of Jesus, but that the signs that were given were meant to cause the reader to believe. This is his stated purpose.

The remainder of the New Testament echoes that same purpose; it was written to create belief in Jesus as the Messiah or the Christ.

The Entire Bible Is All about Jesus Christ

Actually, the entire Bible is all about the Lord Jesus. Jesus Himself made this clear. He said the following to the religious leaders of His day:

You pore over the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me...For if you believed Moses you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. (John 5:39, 46 HCSB)

According to Jesus, the Scriptures spoke of Him. He is the main theme of the Word of God. Again, it must be remembered that this was His own claim.

On the day of His resurrection, He said the following to two disciples walking with Him on the road to Emmaus:

So he said to them, “You foolish people—how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures. (Luke 24:25-27 NET)

According to Jesus, the Law and the prophets spoke about Him. Now, let us look at the evidence.

The Old Testament – The Preparation for the Christ

The Old Testament was preparing the way for the Messiah. Isaiah the prophet wrote about the coming of the Lord. He said,

A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3 NIV)

The entire Old Testament was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. Everything was pointing toward Him.

The Gospels – The Manifestation of the Christ

The Gospels record the manifestation of the long-awaited Messiah. We find that John the Baptist acknowledged Jesus as the one whom the Old Testament spoke of. The Bible says,

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV)

In another episode in the Gospel of John, we have the testimony to Jesus’ identity by a man named Philip. Scripture says,

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets also wrote about—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45 NET)

Jesus, the Messiah, arrived as predicted.

Acts – The Propagation of the Message of the Christ

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, His message was to go out to the entire world. The Book of Acts records the propagation of the message of Christ. The key verse in the Book of Acts records the following words of Jesus:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NRSV)

The message of Jesus was to go out to the entire world. The Book of Acts records the message going from Jerusalem to the city of Rome.

The New Testament Letters – The Explanation of the Two Comings of Christ

The two comings of Christ are explained in the New Testament letters. Paul wrote about the mystery or sacred secret that had been hidden. He said,

God wanted to make known to those among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27 HCSB)

Christ’s first coming was a “mystery” or “sacred secret” that was not explained to the Old Testament reader. The New Testament letters provide us with the explanation.

Revelation – The Consummation of All Things in Christ

Finally, all things will be consummated at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. John the evangelist wrote the following:

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7 NKJV)

All things will be consummated, or fulfilled, when Christ comes again.

Summary on the Main Character of Scripture: Jesus Christ

Therefore, we can sum up the evidence as follows:

  1. The Old Testament records the preparation for the Christ.
  2. The Gospels record the manifestation of the Christ.
  3. The Book of Acts gives us the propagation of the message of the Christ.
  4. The New Testament letters provide the explanation of the two comings of Christ.
  5. The Book of Revelation documents the consummation of all things in Christ.

Therefore, the entire Bible is truly about Him.

The Claims Made about Jesus

Now that we understand that Jesus is the main character of Scripture and that the New Testament was written to cause belief in Him, we now come to our next point - the specific claims that are made about Jesus.

There Is One God and One Way to the One God

When Jesus came to earth, He made a variety of claims about Himself. One thing that Jesus claimed was that He Himself was the only possible way that a person could have a relationship with God. There are many who do not like this assertion because it seems so narrow-minded. Others try to deny that Jesus said or meant this. But the record is clear, and whether a person likes it or not, Jesus made the colossal claim that nobody could know the living God except by means of Him. Jesus told the people of His day,

“I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” (John 8:24 NRSV)

Unless they accepted Him as the Messiah they would die in their sins. People had to make a choice; they were either for Him or against Him.

To His disciples in the upper room, He said the following:

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6b God’s Word)

This could not be any clearer. Jesus is the one way in which a person can know the one, true God. There is no other way.

At another time, He said,

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” (John 5:24, 25 NRSV)

Elsewhere in the Gospel of John, we are told that belief in Jesus leads to eternal life while rejection of Him leads to eternal judgment. It says,

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36 NASB)

The evidence from the New Testament is clear. There is only one way to reach the one God.

These Claims Were Not Invented by the Church

The idea that Jesus is the only way to get to God was not invented by the church but was central to His message. Therefore, according to the New Testament, there is no other way to reach God except through Jesus.

Whether a person believes it or not, the record is clear—Jesus Himself believed and taught that only through Him could a person have their sins forgiven and come to know the living God.

The Claims of the Book of Acts

The Book of Acts also makes the claim that Jesus is the only way to reach God. The Apostle Peter said the following to the people in his day:

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NKJV)

Note well his claim. There is no salvation outside of the person of Jesus Christ. He is the only way by which a person can be saved.

The Claims of the Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul echoes this thought. He also stated that Jesus was the only way to get to God. He wrote the following to Timothy:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, a man, Christ Jesus... (1 Timothy 2:5 HCSB)

There is one God, and one go-between, or mediator, between God and humanity; Jesus Christ. There is no other way!

Conclusion to the Claims about Jesus

Our look at what the New Testament claims about Jesus reveals the following:

  1. The stated purpose of the New Testament is to create belief in the reader that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Those who believe this message will have life through His name.
  2. In addition, the message of the entire Bible is about Jesus. The Old Testament looked forward to His coming, the Gospels record His appearance, the Book of Acts relates the propagation of His message, the New Testament letters explain His two comings, and finally the Book of Revelation reveals all things consummated in Christ.
  3. The specific claim of the New Testament is there is only God and only one way to get to the one God—through Jesus Christ. All others are pretenders. There is no salvation outside of the Person of Jesus Christ. This is their claim, not something the church later invented. It is the claim of Jesus as well as the claim of the writers of the New Testament.

Our next section will consider our various options as we look at His claims.

The Historical Accuracy of the New Testament ← Prior Section
The Claims of Jesus Christ Considered Next Section →
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