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Stories of Lives Liberated

FAQ

Who is Jesus?

Depends who you ask.

According to Christians

  • Jesus is the Son of God and the prophesied Messiah in Old Testament (Luke 22:70).

According to C.S. Lewis, a Christian author:

  • Raving lunatic or The Son of God

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.

According to Jews (Messianic Jews excluded):

  • A prophet and/or one of many false Messiahs

According to atheists/agnostics:

  • Jesus was a Jewish teacher, a historical figure and man who did good works.

Below is a quote from the Huffington Post’s reporter Yonat Shimron. Posted 4/3/12.

As Christians prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus,[Bart] Ehrman, an agnostic, convincingly demonstrates in clear, forceful prose that there was a historical Jesus, a Jewish teacher of the first century who was crucified by Pontius Pilate. “I don’t personally know a single atheist who would deny that Jesus existed,” said Louise Antony, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “It would be really unfair to suggest that it’s part of being an atheist to deny the existence of Jesus as a historical person.”

Link to article

According to Jesus

  • Jesus claimed to be the forgiveness of people’s sins, the Son of God, the Messiah and the only Hope for people going to heaven.

 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

So while there are many different views and opinions as to who Jesus Christ is, there is one–undeniable– fact that Christians to atheists believe: There existed a man named Jesus who was a historical figure, performed miracles and died a bloody death on a wooden cross.

How Did Jesus Liberate Me and What Does That Even Mean?

Jesus liberated us by submitting to death on a cross, a life for a life: His perfect, blameless life for your imperfect, mucked-up, sin-ridden life.

“We all have fallen short of God’s expectations because of our sins.” Romans 3:23

“In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]” Galatians 5:1

What this means or the significance of this is life changing–as you can see in everyone’s stories. Jesus’ death on a cross liberates us in 3 main ways:

  1. Spiritually: Jesus’ death on a cross allows us to know with 100% certainty that we will spend eternity with God in heaven
  2. Physically: As you can see in everyone’s stories, they were all addicted to something: sex, drugs, alcohol, power, control, image, acceptance, etc. Jesus’ death on a cross gives us and gave everyone who shared their story of liberation freedom over our addictions.
  3. Mentally/emotionally: With our sin comes guilt and remorse. People who have raped or been raped are stuck with that guilt. People who had numerous sexual partners, carry that guilt into their marriage. People who have lied, cheated or stolen and have been caught, feel dumb and gross. The point is our sin affects us negatively. Yet, on the cross Jesus became the raped and the rapist; He became the blame, the guilt, the remorse, the shame, the icky, and every other negative emotion. Jesus’ death sets us free from ourselves, from our own condemnation, memories, and guilt.

Jesus’ death on a cross sets people free mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Why Would Jesus Liberate Me?

Pure, unconditional love and obedience to God.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

God knew when He created people He was creating something extremely imperfect. He knew that we would not be able to pass through this life scar free; ergo, He sent His son to be His way (and our way) to spend eternity with Him. He sent His son to give us peace and joy as we pass through this life. Jesus liberated us because it was God’s plan all along to be in our lives.

Is Liberation Free?

No.

Jesus paid a grave cost to set us free: His life. That was not free, no.

Yes!

Because it is a debt Jesus already paid, we can receive it for free. We are not saved because we are a ‘good person’ or because we do good works. Frankly, our best is still not good enough; it is not good enough for God who is Perfect. There is NO cost to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Here’s an analogy to explain this:

You’re at a restaurant. You go to pay your bill, but another Samaritan has already paid your bill. You cannot track that person down to pay him back. Do you think he paid your bill because you ate good or ate prettily? Probably not. (The idea of it just sounds funny. So too, it sounds funny to God when you think that you’re going to heaven because you’re a good person who does good works.) Jesus paid the bill. You didn’t earn it. You don’t deserve it, and you didn’t have to do anything to get God’s attention. He created you, saw you and wanted to know you all along, which is why your bill is paid. All you have to do is receive His gift.

Have you allowed God to pay your bill?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

If I Don't Have to do Good Works to Get to Heaven, Why do I Have to Live a Changed Life?

Out of love and wisdom.

A couple explanations:

~Think about the person who has helped you out the MOST in your life. If he or she asked you for help or a favor, would you do it? You probably would! Nobody has helped or loved you more in this life than God. He asks us to live a changed life, a set apart life, a better life. Why? Because it is safer for us; because He loves us and wants the best for us and so others can come to know Him because of your changed life.

~A woman has lung cancer caused by smoking and is given 3 months to live; at the last minute, the doctors tell her a man died in a car crash and they perform an immediate lung transplant that saves this woman’s life. The operation is successful and she gets a second chance at life. Do you think this woman is going to continue to smoke? If she is smart, probably not. When we’re given new lives, a new chance at life, the last thing we want to do is put ourselves in the very same situation that nearly got us killed. That is why you see in all of the stories of people’s changed lives–they did not go back to their idol, their addiction or the thing that enslaved them. The stories wouldn’t be Liberation stories if it wasn’t about changed lives.

“You believe in Jesus. Good for you! Even demons believe in the name of Jesus and shudder. Yet, if you believe in Jesus, don’t live a life like that of a demon. If you believe in Jesus, demonstrate this with your good works, your love for the church and of the Saints.” James 2:18-19 (paraphrased)

How Do You Know Jesus Is The Son of God

Biblical Arguments

  • Jesus said He was the Son of God
    • Mark 14:61-62But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'
    • Matthew 26:63But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.'
    • John 8:58'Very truly I tell you,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'
    • John 10:30-33'I and the Father are one.' Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him,but Jesus said to them, 'I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?' 'We are not stoning you for any good work,' they replied, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'
  • God the Father said He was the Son of God
    • Matthew 3:16-17As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'
    • Hebrews 1:8-9But about the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.'
    • Luke 1:26-33In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
  • Jesus’ contemporaries said He was the Son of God
    • Mark 1:1The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God
    • John 3:16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
    • Philippians 2:5-8In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!
    • Colossians 2:9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form
    • John 1:1-4In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
    • Matthew 16:15-17“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
  • The transformation of Saul/Paul from a persecutor of early Christians to one of the most influential Christian authors is incredible
    • Acts 9
  • Jesus willingly received worship
    • Matthew 2:11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
    • Matthew 14:33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
    • Matthew 28:9Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.
    • Matthew 28:17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
    • Luke 24:52Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
    • John 9:38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Logical Arguments

  • Multiple historians, many who were enemy’s of the early Christian church, recognized Jesus in their writings and wrote that people believed He was the Son of God
    • Seutonius – Born AD 120
    • Cornelius Tacitus – Born AD 112
    • Flavius Josephus – Born AD 37
  • Why would 10 of the 12 disciples choose martyrdom for something they would have known was a lie?
    • Andrew: Martyrdom by crucifixion
    • Bartholomew: Martyrdom by being either beheaded or flayed alive and crucified, head downward
    • James the Greater: Martyrdom by being beheaded or stabbed with a sword
    • James the Lesser: Martyrdom by being thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple at Jerusalem, then stoned and beaten with clubs
    • John: Died of old age
    • Jude: Martyrdom by being beaten to death with a club
    • Judas: Suicide
    • Matthew: Martyrdom by being burned, stoned, or beheaded
    • Peter: Martyrdom by crucifixion at Rome with his head downwards
    • Philip: Martyrdom
    • Simon: Martyrdom by crucifixion or being sawn in half
    • Thomas: Martyrdom by being stabbed with a spear
  • Where is the body of Jesus?
  • Over 500 people claim to have seen the risen Christ
    • 1 Corinthians 15:6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

Lord, Liar, Lunatic

Lewis“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.” – C.S. Lewis

Who Are We To God?

Who we are to God changes once we choose to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Before we accept Christ, we are still God’s workmanship; like any artist, He is in love with His creation. Yet, because of our sin, we are excluded from God’s citizenship–with that–also excluded from the wondrous gifts that come from being part of His family.

Without God in our lives, there is a longing we have, as if we are missing something in our lives.

Because God loved us so much and didn’t want to see us longing, unfulfilled or going through life as orphans, He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. If we accept Jesus’s death/sacrifice, then God sees us as a new, beautiful creation. He sees us as His children and welcomes us warmly into His family. [He now looks at us without sin.] He fulfills all of our longings and places an immovable hope within our hearts.

Who we are to God. We are…

  • Forgiven Ephesians 1:7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
  • Chosen Deuteronomy 7:6For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.Colossians 3:12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
  • Free From Sin Romans 8:2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
  • Fulfilled Colossians 2:9-10For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
  • A Friend John 15:15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
  • A New Creation 2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
  • Children John 1:12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
  • A Citizen of His Kingdom Philemon 3:20Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Bride of Christ Hosea 2:16“In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
  • Royal Nation, a Holy Priesthood 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
  • Redeemed Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
  • Loved John 3:16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Why Christianity, Not Some Other Religion?

Christianity is the only religion where man cannot please God through works to go to heaven. In Hinduism, there is belief in reincarnation based on good works or bad works. In Buddhism, reality may be an illusion. Neither address how to deal with wronging the God who created us. In Islam a person has to work hard and does not know if they passed the test or not until after they die. In Mormonism if a follower is good enough, he/she can have temple privileges and can even become a god in the afterlife.

All of these examples require man to reach out to God and work to appease Him. Christianity is the only religion where God does 100% of the work and man simply accepts. Good works, for a Christian, overflow out of thanks for what God has done. God desires all men to be saved and to understand the truth. (1 Tim. 2:4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.) The truth is that He did all the work for us through His Son Jesus Christ. Every person has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) Our sin separates us from the God who created us and God offers salvation as a free gift. (Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.) If we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved. (Romans 10:9...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.)

Christianity is the only religion that offers a certain solution for sin. It is a gift that cannot be worked for and it allows us to be right with God and live with Him forever. The only way to know the God who created you is through His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  – John 14:6

Why does God seem to have changed from Old Testament to New Testament?

When reading through the Old Testament and the New Testament, it can seem God changes, but it is not a change in God’s character. God is always just, he always deals with sin and brings the wicked to justice. He also loves humans very much and desires us throughout all time.

So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

– Exodus 34:4-7

For it is through the Old Testament that the character and heart of God is revealed. He is a God who is unwaveringly committed to justice. He has a righteous indignation against sin. This trait of God never changes. In the New Testament, Jesus who was God in the flesh came to to live with humans. Jesus who had no sin, took our sin on his body. And the most brutal, violent act of God’s wrath occurred. God’s justice was poured out on Jesus. Sin was not pushed under the rug. God did not change. It was Jesus who died for our sin that we might become without sin!

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

– 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus changes the story. God’s love and justice has never changed. God’s justice was directed at the people in the Old Testament. In the New Testament God’s justice was directed at Jesus for our sin. Sometimes, it can seem God is different when reading through the different books — however it is good to remember God’s justice, God’s love, and Jesus.

Why Would God Create Us If He Knew We Might End Up In Hell?

TL:DR – He gave us a free will and we chose sin, therefore, since the wages of sin is death and God is a just God who keeps His promises He must allow a place like hell to exist. He doesn’t want anyone to perish but will not force Himself upon us. He deeply longs for us to know and follow Him and He takes great delight in us. The joy and glory we bring to Him must outweigh the horrible reality of some having eternal punishment in hell.

  1. God created us for His glory and pleasure. God didn’t create us to punish us in hell, we were created for His glory and His pleasure

Isaiah 43:7everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made., Isaiah 62:5As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you., Zeph3:17The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

  1. He gave us a free will. Instead of forcing us into a right relationship with Himself.  He gave us a choice, but He longs for us to choose Him.

2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance., Joshua 24:15But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household,we will serve the Lord., Genesis 2:16-17And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.', Rev 3:20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

  1. We chose sin

The problem entered with Eve’s choice of sin in the Garden Of Eden and now continues in the souls of all of us. The       problem of sin is so large and so unholy we can’t even imagine the ramifications of that. Nor can sin be allowed in eternity with God. The reality and the thought of hell is horrible and yet gives us a glimpse of the incredibly horrible nature of our sin and what we truly deserve.

Genesis 3:1-19, Romans 3:23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

  1. Therefore there is a consequence of that sin

If God wouldn’t allow hell or even if He would annihilate unbelievers (there’s some who hold to that theology) after the judgment day than He wouldn’t be a just God.  There wouldn’t be a real punishment for sin. He couldn’t give justice to injustice. Since there is sin in existence and the wages of sin is eternal death, there has to be a place where this eternal death and punishment will be carried out.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 6:23

  1. The Lord doesn’t desire ANY to perish

It is clear in the Bible that God longs for us in our free will to choose to follow Him. It’s also clear He doesn’t desire anyone to perish.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9

see also Ezekiel 33:11Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

  1. God gave us a way out

There is a redemption plan! There is a way we can have eternal life instead of eternal death.  Having that option alone demonstrates God’s incredible love and grace for us. It also shows us how much He longs for us to be with Him in right relationship for eternity. Since He gave His son for us we can escape the horrible and very real reality of hell.  There’s no redemption plan for satan or the fallen angels/his demons. We were given a second chance.  Instead of focusing on the horrible reality of hell and why our God would allow it if some might spend eternity there, we should focus on the better question of ‘why would a righteous, perfect and holy God allow us to spend eternity with him?’ In addition the fact we are aware of the eternal punishment of hell is one in which is so gruesome that it pushes us to share our faith with others so that they too can choose eternal life instead.

Romans 10:9-10If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved., John 1:12-13Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God., Romans 3:23-26for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus., John 3:16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life., Rev 19:1-3After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: 'Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.' And again they shouted: 'Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.', Romans 9:2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.