If one has to pose this question to people living in the Western hemisphere, the majority of them will answer in the affirmative, and no one dare refute or challenge their claim because their first reaction will be, who make you a judge, only God can judge me! But the scripture plainly says; "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe --- and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2: 19-20). Furthermore, this is what the Lord Himself said; ..".He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him --- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak" (John 12: 44-50). This profound statement made by Jesus Christ, verifies the fact that it is the word which judges, and therefore, from the words spoken by Jesus Christ one can verify who is and who is not a true believer in Jesus Christ. And the words spoken by Jesus Christ with regards to believing Him is so simple, yet so profound, and so assertive, that anyone who does not believe these words are definitely not a true believer in Jesus Christ. Believing in Jesus Christ is the most important work anyone who believes in God has to do, because the people who knew Jesus Christ whilst He was on earth asked Him; "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God: that you believe in Him whom He sent." Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the dessert: as it is written, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat." The manna was a definite sign and proof that God was with them during their journey in the wilderness, and they were instructed saying; " And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you. Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him" (Deuteronomy 8:2-6). Jesus Christ compared Himself to the manna with which the children of Israel were fed during their journey through the wilderness by saying; "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the true bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven: For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world---Your father ate the manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" (John 6:29-33;49-51). This simple straight forward statement from Jesus Christ offended the majority of those who heard it.
For many people, the crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans is just another tragic fact of history - a cruel travesty of justice, perhaps, but nothing more. But for Christians the death of Jesus has a much deeper and far-reaching significance. Jane Williams examines the reasons why Jesus' death was seen by his first followers as nothing less than the demonstration of God's love for his creation, and the means by which we all can find forgiveness and redemption, both now and in the world to come.
Two billion people today identify as Christians, with the implication that Jesus is the focus of their relationship with God, and their way of living in the world. Such followers of Jesus are now more numerous and make up a greater proportion of the world's population than ever before. Despite its decline in the West, Christianity is rapidly increasing in areas such as Africa and China. Richard Bauckham explores the historical figure of Jesus, evaluating the sources and concluding that they provide us with good historical evidence for his life and teaching. In order to place Jesus in his proper historical context, as a Jew from Galilee in the early first century of our era, Bauckham looks at Jewish religion and society in the land of Israel under Roman rule. He explores Jesus' symbolic practices as well as his teachings, looks at his public career and emphasises how his actions, such as healing and his association with notorious sinners, were just as important as his words. Bauckham shows that Jesus was devoted to the God of Israel, with a special focus on God's fatherly love and compassion, and like every Jewish teacher he expounded the Torah, but did so in his own distinctive way. With a discussion about the way Jesus understood himself and what finally led to his death as a criminal on a Roman cross, he concludes by considering the significance Jesus has come to have for Christian faith worldwide. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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